Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called US President Donald Trump’s reaction to deadly attacks in Tehran “repugnant”, as intelligence officials said that the five attackers were Iranians who had fought for ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
At least 16 people were killed on Wednesday in attacks claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, as suicide bombers and gunmen targeted the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini – leader of the 1979 revolution – in the capital, Tehran.
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“Repugnant [White House] statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship,” Zarif tweeted on Thursday.
He was responding to a statement released by Trump’s press secretary’s office, which took the opportunity of an attack to make a point that “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote”.
Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients.Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 8, 2017
The White House statement, which mentioned how Iranian people were “going through such challenging times”, came as the US Senate advanced legislation that would impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, partly for what the bill described as Iran’s “support for acts of international terrorism”.
What kind of “terrorism” these statements refer to remains vague. Trump has long accused Iran of backing “terrorism” and has threatened to tear up a 2015 nuclear deal between the Iranian government and major western powers.
Trump’s comments also brought criticism from Iranians on social media, who recalled their government’s offers of support and candlelit vigils held in Iran after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York.
“Iranians lit candles for you on 9/11. You kick them while they’re down. Classy,” tweeted Ali Ghezelbash, an Iranian business analyst.
Attackers fought for ISIL
More than 40 people were also wounded in Wednesday’s attacks.
A statement by the intelligence ministry issued on Thursday said that the men who carried out the twin attacks had left Iran to fight for ISIL in the Iraqi city of Mosul, as well as Raqqa, in Syria – the armed group’s de facto capital – before returning last summer.
It identified the men only by their first names, saying they did not want to release their last names owing to security and privacy concerns for their families.
The assault marks the first attacks claimed by ISIL in Iran.
Iranian security officials counter that it is their regional rival Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, that is responsible for funding and spreading the ideology that most closely resembles ISIL’s.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard weighed Saudi Arabia of being behind Wednesday’s attacks.
“The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack,” the Revolutionary Guard said in a statement, referring to Saudi Arabia.
The statement also said that the “spilled blood of the innocent will not remain unavenged”.